Dr. Tim’s Worship Tip of the Month – June 2012

Worship Tip of the Month | Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Reintroducing the Hymn

In our constant search for the ‘new song’ let us never forget the ‘old-new’ songs that have passed the test of time, songs of faith passed down through generations, songs of theology and understanding that deserve a second look and maybe a makeover.  Many hymns have never been heard or sung by this generation. They are all ‘new’ to them! Get a good hymnal and start the treasure hunt.

List of some common hymns

A Mighty Fortress

All Creatures of Our God and King

All Hail the Power

Be Thou My Vision

Before the Throne of God

Blessed Assurance

Crown Him With Many Crowns

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Holy, Holy, Holy

How Firm a Foundation

How Great Thou Art

I Know Whom I Have Believed

I Stand Amazed

Immortal, Invisible, God only wise

Jesus Paid it All

Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee

My Jesus I Love Thee

Nothing but the Blood

O God Our Help in Ages Past

O the Deep Deep Love of Jesus

O Worship the King

Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow

Praise to the Lord the Almighty

Take My Life

The Solid Rock

‘Tis so Sweet

To God be the Glory

  • Musician and theologian Michael Card believes that the contemporary worship movement has simply capitulated to cultural trends. “So many songs and choruses focus on me‚ and how I feel,” he says. “The great hymns focus on the Triune God and reinforce biblical themes in a way that has since been lost by the new musical verve.”
  • The Origin of the Hymn
    Hymns began as statements of theological truth. The Psalms are hymns. The texts found in Philippians 2:6-11 and II Timothy 2:11-13 are Christological hymns thought to have been sung during early Christian worship settings. The book of Revelation is filled with similar songs of the early church. As the church progressed into the fourth century, hymn writers found themselves engaged in the defense of orthodoxy as they battled heretics in something akin to a theological sing-off. Where the music captivated the listener, the theologically intricate lyrics communicated solid biblical truths. John R. Throop
  1. Current Hymn Refashioning

Currently, many Christian songwriters are rediscovering the great hymns of the past and reintroducing them to this generation.

A Mighty Fortress – Tommy Walker

All Creatures of our God and King –David Crowder

All Hail the Power – Point of Grace

Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone) Chris Tomlin

Be Thou My Vision – Tim Smith

Before the throne of God Above – Vikki Cook

Come Thou Fount – Mark Schultz

Doxology – David Crowder

Fairest Lord Jesus – Natalie Grant

Grace Like Rain (Amazing Grace) – Todd Agnew

Great is Thy Faithfulness – Lincoln Brewster

Here is Love – Matt Redman

Holy, Holy, Holy – Steven Curtis Chapman

I Surrender All – Brian Littrell

It is Well – Chris Tomlin

Joy to the World (Unspeakable Joy) Chris Tomlin

Joyful, Joyful we adore Thee – Passion

Just as I Am – Nichole Nordeman

Love Lifted Me – Tim Smith

Nothing but the blood – Matt Redman

O God Our Help – Tommy Walker

O Worship the King – Passion

Praise to the Lord the Almighty – Christy Nockels

Rock of Ages – Chris Rice

Solid Rock – Passion

Take My Life and Let it be – Chris Tomlin

The Wonderful Cross – Chris Tomlin

There is a Fountain – Selah

Tis so Sweet – Casting Crowns

Trust and Obey – Big Daddy Weave

When I Survey (the Wondrous Cross) – Kathryn Scott

This is a healthy trend to be inclusive for all generations. Honoring the old, deepening the new.

Still others are taking the higher and harder route of crafting their own unique contemporary ‘hymns’:

All I Once Held Dear – Graham Kendrick

Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer – Margaret Becker and Keith Getty

In Christ Alone – Keith Getty & Stuart Townend

Majesty – Matt Redman

My Savior, My God – Aaron Shust

Take me to the Cross – Dave Lubben

The Power of the Cross – Keith Getty & Stuart Townend

The Wonder of Your Cross – Robin Mark

This Kingdom – Geoff Bullock

Mix and match hymns according to the meter of the lyrics:

      1.   Amazing grace
      2.   Joy to the world
      3.   O for a 1000 tongues
      4.   Alas and did my Savior bleed
    1.   Alleluia
    2.   Doxology
    3.   When I survey
    4.   Just as I am
    1.    Christ the Lord is ris’n
    2.    Angels we have heard on high
    3.    Jesus loves me
    4.    Take my life
    1.    What child is this
    2.    My Savior’s love
    3.    I surrender all
    4.    What a wonderful savior

In our worship, we should strive to be as inclusive as possible especially in our usage of older songs that still have great meaning and purpose for us today. How we treat them, or arrange them, then becomes a paramount concern. Here are some possibilities: Blessed Assurance? 6/8 to ¾ time. Major to minor. Slow to fast.

Reintroducing the hymns:

  1. As-is – Sing ‘as-is’ with classic piano/organ instrumentation. Maybe fill-in some with strings and special instrumentation.
  2. New harmonic structure– Keep the melody intact, but work the harmonic structure (usually an older format)
    • Doug Hanks thinks that a way to introduce hymns to contemporary seekers is not to rewrite the melodies, but to change the harmonies and arrangements. “Most hymns are actually arranged for choral settings or to be played on the organ as the main instrument. This makes it very difficult for guitarists to try and interpret.”
    • It’s all in the arrangement, say worship leaders. Ron Ferlito, who has arranged dozens of hymns for contemporary use, says that it is important to determine what the function of the hymn will be in the service, whether for congregational singing or solo work. “If you intend to use the contemporary arrangement for congregational singing,” he says, “it would be advisable to keep at least the melody intact and true to the original.” Anyone familiar with the hymn will then be able to easily understand what is happening musically. Ferlito adds: “If you are modifying a hymn for use as a performance piece or on a recording, you can take greater liberties and really get creative as long as there are at least portions of the original melody to be found so that the listener can get their bearings.
  3. Use as a Special ministry song and arrange accordingly.
  4. Change the melody – Keep the chordal structure
  5. Change the tempo or meter
  6. Keep the lyrics but change everything else.
  7. Add your own bridge or tag
  8. Mix and match hymns according to the meter of the lyrics
  9. Match hymns with choruses of like theme and feel
  10. Hymn Stories

If necessary, explain the hymn, share some thoughts to make it more meaningful. Maybe give a background of the hymn or the writer. Make it personal if possible. Note key words or phrases in the song. Maybe create your own bridge with those key words or phrases out of the chord progression being used.


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